I was determined to breastfeed—but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was

All the struggles and support I had with my first baby made breastfeeding my second so much easier.

I was determined to breastfeed—but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was

Somebody who loves me should have told me breastfeeding was hard. But to hear my elders tell it, you only had to put your boob in a newborn's mouth and the rest just flowed. False. Breastfeeding is a trip. And if your journey is anything like mine, it will be oddly challenging, weirdly wonderful, and entirely worth it in the end (for some). If it's anything like mine, your experience will also differ by child. I have two.

I "successfully" breastfed both of my babies, eventually. My first experience was my son and getting it right took more patience, diligence and dedication than I ever expected. There was even blood.

When I gave birth to my son, I was determined to breastfeed him exclusively for a full year. I never even considered the alternatives. I'm not sure why, but I told myself that formula was the enemy and that serving formula meant I failed him. I felt immense pressure to get this right. (It's worth noting that formula would become a godsend years later when I had my daughter.)

When the nurse handed me my newborn son for the first time, I gave him my breast and my confidence immediately shattered. He didn't latch. He didn't do anything. I even tried to force my entire boob into his mouth and he recoiled. The nurse could tell that I was getting nowhere fast and dutifully started giving me helpful tips. Still nothing. My milk had come in and I just couldn't get my son to take it. The nurse then proceeded to hand me a breast pump and a bunch of tiny syringes, and instructed me to fill as many of those as possible with my milk. Newborns don't require a ton of milk at first and this process was easy for me so I was relieved. Most importantly for me, at the time, was that I could satiate my child without using formula.

I gave birth where Beyonce gave birth to Blue, which is to say that this hospital was nice and had many resources for new moms, including complimentary sessions with lactation specialists. Like Serena Williams and many other Black mothers, I suffered postpartum preeclampsia. The upside to that complication was that I stayed in the hospital long enough to receive guidance from three different specialists. InBrooklyn, lactation specialists can charge upwards of $300 for an hour of their time so I counted myself as lucky to be able to talk to all these consultants for free.

With their help, I was able to get a latch here and there, but was still mostly feeding my son via syringes. That's when the nurses from the nursery turned on me. In their opinion, my son wasn't getting enough milk and I was selfishly starving him. They insistedI give him formula—I refused. They kept pushing, but I wasn't budging. It even felt like one was prepared to call child services, which blew my mind. My doctor assured me that newborns didn't require full bottles so I held my ground. In fact, my son didn't need formula because my milk was increasing. Eventually, they backed off. After five long days in the hospital, it was finally time to go home. But I was terrified.

There are so many emotions involved in breastfeeding. When my son was able to latch, I was flooded with oxytocin and intense natural highs. When he wasn't, I felt extremely frustrated and disheartened. I tended to feel immensely self conscious when my mom was around, too so I hid in my room to pump. I know my mom felt rejected, but I needed alone time. The stress of trying to get this right was officially wreaking havoc. Why wasn't he latching more?

Our first trip to the pediatrician changed everything. She looked at my newborn's tongue and explained that he had a slight tongue tie. That's what was hindering his latch. She offered the name of a specialist who could clip the tie, but he actually grew out of it days before his surgery date. I felt immense relief.

The next 13 months were a trip. I traveled a lot for work. My pump became my sidekick and I pumped everywhere. Literally everywhere. Some of my clients had luxurious lactation rooms. The worst was having to pump in conference rooms that didn't lock. I'd sit there praying that no one walked in.

Once we got the hang of things, my son loved to breastfeed. At 12 months, he was sucking so hard that it drew blood. At 13 months, it was finally time to cut him off. Feeding hurt and I'd met my goal. I was done. Even though I loved breastfeeding, by the end it felt like finishing a marathon and forgetting why I ran it in the first place.

I didn't know it then, but when I stopped breastfeeding, I was already pregnant with my daughter (we weren't trying, by the way). Her story was much simpler. Yes, I still had to pump in airports and train restrooms, but I knew what I was doing this time around. She latched immediately and gulped her milk furiously. This time, I also allowed myself a reprieve by adding formula into the mix. Surprisingly, she rejected my breast right at nine months. I felt guilty for not giving her a full year, but also refused to pump exclusively so we met the end of that road early.

Ultimately, everything worked out just fine. My children are both intelligent and perfectly healthy, no matter how I fed them. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I loved breastfeeding my babies and am proud that I pushed through all the challenges sent my way.

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:

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